She may be a first-time provincial candidate, but Marisa Sterling is familiar with Queen’s Park.
The Liberal candidate for Toronto-Danforth got a firsthand taste of provincial politics at the age of 12 when she served as a legislative page. Now, the 41-year-old chemical engineer aims to serve on the other side of the speaker’s bench as an MPP.
Sterling has her work cut out for her, given the area’s heavy NDP influence and the fact incumbent Peter Tabuns is seeking re-election. But in speaking with constituents at the door, Sterling said she’s finding the core values regarding family and the environment are Liberal values.
“What I’m seeing is that the Liberal party has actually been delivering and making really positive strides for those values and what’s happening in the riding is that people are saying ‘I care about these things,’” she said on the phone from her campaign office on Day 2 of the race.
In the eight years since the McGuinty government took power, she said the foundation for positive change has been laid and, if elected, she’ll build on that.
She cited the reduction in hospital wait times as an example, saying during a recent visit to Toronto East General she was pleased to learn their emergency room wait time has been reduced by 50 percent.
“That’s sort of a starting point for more that can come,” she said.
She cites her aging mother as one reason she’ll advocate for a better healthcare system. “I want to really make sure that she’s going to get services she needs at any point in time,” she said, adding she feels just as strongly for the education system and wants to ensure her niece and nephew’s individual needs are met.
And she is driven to see youth of all ages achieve success, she said.
In addition to chairing the CNEA youth advisory panel, Sterling is vice-chair of the Ontario Professional Engineers’ Foundation for Education. In that role, she has coordinated scholarships for university students.
Sterling is also a regular speaker at conferences and in classrooms to encourage and help students pursue careers in math and sciences. She’s successfully obtained grant money to bring engineers into classrooms and augment curriculum.
“I’m very motivated (by) young people. I really want to see them succeed and have opportunities and that’s a big reason why I’m running.” She said. “There’s great opportunity to have more mentors out there.”
In working to support engineers, Sterling said she’s had the opportunity to travel across Ontario and learn more about her province. She said this and her advocacy work have laid the groundwork for a career in politics.
“It’s given me a much broader perspective for what we have here, for our industries, the kind of work people are doing, the kind of knowledge and intelligence we have,” she said. “So I feel a really … good foundation in my understanding of the province.”
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